My recent trip to Budapest gave me the opportunity to try out a couple of mobile services that would dramatically reduce the cost of roaming compared to using my regular UK SIM card – MAXroam and DeFi Mobile. Why two services? MAXroam is SIM based so provides worldwide coverage wherever there’s a mobile network and DeFi, being WiFi based, provides worldwide coverage across its network of hotspots.
For the trip I put a MAXroam SIM in one of my handsets, so instead of paying 25p to send a SMS, MAXroam’s rate was about 17p (MAXroam’s tariff is priced in Euros). Now that the EU has pushed down the cost of voice calls, the MAXroam rate for voice is similar to regular roaming rates but I’m guessing there will be some changes there soon. However outside the EU where roaming rates are (apparently!) subject to market forces, MAXroam is much cheaper, 42p per minute to call a UK landline from the USA compared to 120p roaming via my UK operator.
DeFi Mobile is very cost effective for roaming because its flat rate tariff covers all your calls wherever you are worldwide. A single monthly fee of £23 covers all outbound and inbound calls worldwide, so the additional cost of using DeFi in Budapest was zero. The hotel where the conference was held had excellent DeFi coverage so I was able to use DeFi for almost all my calls. With my regular mobile number forwarded to my DeFi London 020 number I also avoided charges for receiving calls. Working on the basis that I made about 3 hours of calls back to the UK; if I’d used my UK SIM the cost would have been £45. Using DeFi, the additional cost was zero (included in my existing monthly service charge). And that’s not including the saving on calls I received.
What I like about new operators like MAXroam and DeFi is their ability to innovate and offer additional services that add real value to their proposition. Both MAXroam and DeFi offer the ability to add local in-country virtual numbers to your account. As my trip was only for a few days I hadn’t added a Budapest number to either account, however while I was in Budapest I mentioned on Twitter that I was using MAXroam and received a message from Pat Phelan, CEO at MAXroam, asking if I’d like a local number to give out while I was there. Within five minutes it was working (probably less, actually!). Very powerful to be able to simply and easily create a local presence in the locations you’re travelling to for your contacts there to reach you on. MAXroam offers up to 50 additional numbers per SIM card covering 52 different countries so there’s plenty of scope there! Plus, Pat is clearly a top man who goes out of his way to help his customers. This episode also shows the power of Twitter as a medium for communicating with customers and contacts.